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Public Scrutiny of Automated Decisions: Early Lessons and Emerging Methods

February 27, 2018

Automated decisions are increasingly part of everyday life, but how can the public scrutinize, understand, and govern them? To begin to explore this, Omidyar Network has, in partnership with Upturn, published Public Scrutiny of Automated Decisions: Early Lessons and Emerging Methods.The report is based on an extensive review of computer and social science literature, a broad array of real-world attempts to study automated systems, and dozens of conversations with global digital rights advocates, regulators, technologists, and industry representatives. It maps out the landscape of public scrutiny of automated decision-making, both in terms of what civil society was or was not doing in this nascent sector and what laws and regulations were or were not in place to help regulate it.Our aim in exploring this is three-fold:1) We hope it will help civil society actors consider how much they have to gain in empowering the public to effectively scrutinize, understand, and help govern automated decisions; 2) We think it can start laying a policy framework for this governance, adding to the growing literature on the social and economic impact of such decisions; and3) We're optimistic that the report's findings and analysis will inform other funders' decisions in this important and growing field.

Data Ethics: Investing Wisely in Data at Scale

September 1, 2016

"Data at scale" -- digital information collected, stored and used in ways that are newly feasible -- opens new avenues for philanthropic investment. At the same time, projects that leverage data at scale create new risks that are not addressed by existing regulatory, legal and best practice frameworks. Data-oriented projects funded by major foundations are a natural proving ground for the ethical principles and controls that should guide the ethical treatment of data in the social sector and beyond.This project is an initial effort to map the ways that data at scale may pose risks to philanthropic priorities and beneficiaries, for grantmakers at major foundations, and draws from desk research and unstructured interviews with key individuals involved in the grantmaking enterprise at major U.S. foundations. The resulting report was prepared at the joint request of the MacArthur and Ford Foundations.